The mile run.

I am not a runner.

So it was weird when before 5 on a summer morning, I put on a pair of running shoes. For a month, I had been working out from 5:30 to 6:30 weekday mornings with a trainer named Frank and the others who had signed up for his boot camp.

We met in a parking lot, empty except for our own cars, outside the clubhouse in a local subdivision. We stretched. We squatted, curled and pressed. That morning, the last day of camp, we each would run a timed mile to compare to the one we ran the first week of camp.

We stood side by side in a line, under the black sky. Frank fiddled with the stopwatch. He said go. We ran. He had already measured it: If we ran from where we stood in line to a gated neighborhood north of us and back, we would run a mile.

On the street, I ran, jogged, walked. Ran, jogged, walked. Over and over, slower than most but faster than some, in the Florida heat and through the thick humidity. I got to the gate. My lungs hurt. I turned around, and I ran, jogged, walked. Ran, jogged, walked.

By the time I could see the parking lot again, the black sky had turned to royal blue. The sun had started to rise. I jogged. My lungs pushed air out and took it in, hard. I turned into the lot. I could see Frank. So I sprinted. My feet and my lungs pounded with rhythm.

Pound, pound, in.

Pound, pound, out.

Faster.

Pound, pound, in.

Pound, pound, out.

Faster.

Toward our parked cars.

Faster.

Past our parked cars.

Faster.

“DONE!”

I collapsed onto the pavement, on purpose. My chest rose high and fell deep, air in and out (but not enough). Frank read my results:

11 minutes.

I began to cry.

“Are you ok?”

I nodded yes. And in tears, I did the math.

I had finished the mile run four minutes faster than my first one.

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This post is part of a series called “True Story.” Click here to read other posts in the series.

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